Illinois’ Republican governor spent part of Juneteenth on the campaign trail giving himself accolades for helping his state’s Black community.
“We’ve done historic things for the Black community; I would argue, more than any other governor. Creating economic opportunity, making more equality in contracting. We’ve done historic things, and we’re going to keep on fighting,” the incumbent governor said.
Rauner gave himself a pat on the back for programs such as Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurs, which focuses on supporting Black-owned businesses.
However, what the governor chose to ignore is that under his watch, Illinois has the highest Black unemployment rate in the nation. Indeed, Illinois has consistently been among the states with the highest Black unemployment rate for almost every quarter since 2016.
“Illinois has done about the worst when it comes to creating economic opportunities and employment opportunities for African Americans,” University of Illinois professor Robert Bruno told NPR News.
There’s a disconnect between Rauner’s self portrait and his history of racial tone deafness.
In February, he thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate his support for racial diversity in corporate power structures by drinking a glass of chocolate milk. To many people, it came across as making light of an issue that Black America takes seriously.
Some Black state lawmakers are not allowing the governor’s claim to go unchallenged, Politico reported. State Senator and Black Caucus chair Kimberly Lightford pointed out Rauner’s failure in 2017 to unequivocally condemn a political cartoon that many in the Black community found offensive. The cartoon depicted a Black Chicago school child begging a rich white man for money.